Chin Becomes First Four-Time Men’s 45+ National Singles Champion; Grunberg and Prockop Continue Title Streaks

Richard Chin

The 108th staging of the National Singles culminated in multiple five-game finals—including a Richard Chin masterclass—and saw multiple title streaks augmented Sunday, March 31, at Squash on Fire in Washington DC.

More than 150 players from twenty-six states competed over the weekend, with matches also held across the street at Equinox. View all results here and select tournament photography here. Watch live stream replays from Court 1 on the US Squash Youtube channel.

The most dramatic final of the day came between men’s 45+ top seeds Richard Chin and Galen Le Cheminant. Chin, the three-time defending champion, found himself two games down after an impressive start from his South Carolinian counterpart. Chin rebounded in the third and fourth games to force a decisive fifth. Up 5-1 in the fifth, Chin sustained a dislocated finger on his non-racquet hand after pushing off the back wall. Play stopped for fifteen minutes while he was given medical assistance. With finger fully wrapped, Chin managed to return to the court and close out the match 11-7. With his fourth consecutive 45+ title at forty-nine years old, Chin is now the only four-time champion in the age division, surpassing Dominic Hughes, Steve Wren and Anil Nayar, who all hold three titles.

Chin’s title streak was just one of a few that remained in tact on finals day. Hope Prockop reasserted her dominance in the women’s 40+ and 50+ divisions, successfully retaining each title. Prockop edged runners up Julie Kessler in the 40+ division, and Beth Fedorowich in the 50+ division. Prockop has now won at least one title at every National Singles since 2013.

“Every title is special; every opponent is a challenge,” said Prockop, who placed third at the 2018 World Masters. “I have to get up for all of them, and I felt like I got up for it today. A really special part of this event is getting to see the older competitors that have become my friends over the years. I’m unbelievably lucky to have young people and older people all up and down the east coast to play and train with. Having players thirty years on either side of me—from Harbour Woodward and John Paul Tew to Jean Grainger and Michael Gough—is the absolute sweet spot for me. These people have become dear friends on and off court. It really reinforces the truth that this is a sport for life. I’d like to win a world title in my lifetime. In our vintage aging process, we are always up against the possibility of injury, so my goal is to keep my body strong and continue to improve my game to make it even sharper than it is now. Right now, I’m in a great place where I can look ahead and look behind as I continue to play this game that I love so much.”

The weekend proved to be a memorable one for local favorite Carole Grunberg, who won an unprecedented fourth consecutive women’s 60+ national title on her home courts. Grunberg topped the division without dropping a game, defeating Baltimore’s Elizabeth Everts in the final, 11-6, 11-7, 11-3. With her win on Sunday, Grunberg now has seven National Singles titles overall.

“I won it for my home club—I love these people” Grunberg said. “They helped me out along the way and it felt great to win in my home town as a native of DC. It’s been a wonderful weekend. Everybody had such a great time. The Squash on Fire and US Squash staff are fantastic. The tournament had a really good, warm feel.”

The women’s and men’s 55+ finals both fielded impressive five-game comebacks from 2-0 down by Sue Lawrence and Dominic Hughes. Lawrence, the two seed, dropped the first two games against top seed Beth Fedorowich, 5-11, 9-11, before turning the match around to win the last three games 11-4, 11-6, 11-7. Lawrence adds the title to her 2013 50+ triumph.

Carole Grunberg celebrates with her coach, Ronny Vlassaks,

Hughes, the top seed, pulled off a narrow escape against two seed Mark Sealy. After Hughes forced a fifth game, Sealy held a match ball up 11-10 in the fifth, at which point Hughes won three straight points to clinch the title 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 13-11. Hughes collects his fourteenth national title with the successful 55+ title defense.

On the eldest spectrum of age, a six-player strong men’s 80+ division saw Michael Gough take his first title after aging up without dropping a game and defeating Paul Segal in the final. Gough marks his eighth national title.

American squash legend John G. “Jay” Nelson augmented his incredible all-time National Singles title record with this thirty-first. Nelson, the top seed, edged Ned Monaghan 11-8, 11-9, 11-7 in the 75+ final.

The tournament celebrated the inauguration of a women’s 65+ division. Patricia Millman earned her second national title by winning all three of her round robin matches 3-0, with Kathryn MacDonald placing second. In the men’s 65+, Rashid Aziz won his first national title in five years, defeating Don Sheer in the final 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9.

The men’s 70+, 60+, 40+ and 35+ divisions all welcomed first-time champions.

In the men’s 70+ final, John Cosmi defeated Gary Usrey in four games. Cosmi, from Wayne, New Jersey, came back from a game down to win the final, 7-11, 11-4, 11-5, 11-7. It was the first final appearance for either player at the National Singles.

Pittsburgh’s Steven Baicker-Mckee won his first National Singles title in the 60+ division, fulfilling his top seeding. Baicker-Mckee defeated four seed Bruce Gordon 11-7, 13-11, 11-4.

The men’s 40+ final had a Cincinnati flavor, in which Cincinnati Country Club pro Nathan Dugan beat Cincinnati native Tim Wyant 11-7, 11-5, 13-11.

The youngest age group, men’s 35+, saw two National Singles debutantes contest the final in the form of Karamatullah Khan and Dennett Wilkens. Khan, the Head Pro at Lifetime Fitness in King of Prussia, PA, took down Wilkens, a US Squash staffer, in four games 11-8, 5-11,11-3, 11-8, in the final match of the tournament.